GM buys lidar developer for self-driving car projects

GM Cruise Automation self-driving Bolt EV

GM Cruise Automation self-driving Bolt EV

General Motors continues to pursue an ambitious self-driving car agenda. It recently acquired Cruise Automation to help speed up development of its own self-driving cars.

Now it’s purchased another company, Strobe Inc. Strobe develops lidar systems, an essential component for self-driving and autonomous-car technologies. Specifically, Strobe will join Cruise Automation as another asset in the automaker’s self-driving car subsidiary.

Lidar works by using light to create high-resolution images of the world around a car, which effectively allows a self-driving car to “see.” The accuracy of lidar systems is crucial for self-driving cars to operate in the real world. With GM’s acquisition, it now owns two integral companies to ensure self-driving cars come to market sooner than expected, as it often says. 

GM’s Cruise Automation also started testing a self-driving ride-share service, though it’s only for Cruise employees. The app-based service hails a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV and picks the employee up in the San Francisco, California, area. Per California law, a human still sits in the driver’s seat, but the car does as much of the driving as it can handle. GM Cruise has expressed interest to bring the service to the public in the future as well, potentially through Lyft, which the automaker previously invested $500 million in.

GM Cruise now operates 100 self-driving Bolt EVs in total and the subsidiary recently revealed its third-generation self-driving car. The latest prototype features all redundancy and safety requirements necessary to operate without a driver.

While a fully self-driving car is on the horizon, GM introduced its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology earlier this year. The system, available in the 2018 Cadillac CT6, handles all driving inputs on a divided highway.

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